Today, I wanted to take a moment and talk about one of my all-time favourite fictional characters. I know it may sound cheesy, but I do consider Éowyn somewhat of a role model—an inspiration. She grows so much within Lord of the Rings, though she isn’t even considered one of the “main” group in most cases. My feelings about her within the series led to what I feel is the best essay that I have ever written—mostly because it has been the one that I have been the most passionate about. It was a character analysis of Éowyn and how she made the transition from the Propp personae role of The Princess to The Hero, and how that results in comparisons to the Chinese legend Hua Mu Lan (not the Disney version), the Grimm fairy-tale Rapunzel, and the skjaldmeyjar (shieldmaidens/female warriors) in Old Norse literature.
“But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?”
She is sad in the beginning. She is trapped, and what she fears the most is a cage.
“A time may come soon,” said he, “when none will return. Then there will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defence of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”
She answered: “All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”
“What do you fear, lady?” he asked.
“A cage,” she said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
Éowyn takes the stride that she needs to, in order to get what she wants. She makes the decision that the possibility she may die does not outweigh her desire to be…free.
In the end she is able to do what no man could—slay the Witch-King. This turns out to be not only one of the most dramatic moments in the books, but also completely life-altering for Éowyn.
“And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”
While I’m not going to be slaying any Witch-Kings, or at least not literally, at the core her journey is one that I wish to strive to. I want to be able to break free of any fears that are keeping me “locked up”, in a sense. I want to be my own hero, in the end.